A Step to Greatness
Type: Single-player, Multiplayer
GENRE: Action, Adventure, Strategy
DEVELOPER: Thomas Moon Kang
PUBLISHER: Humble Bundle,
Maple Whispering Limited
RELEASE DATE: Mar 26, 2020
Rockman.EXE, better known as MegaMan Battle Network in the west, is quite a unique spin-off of the beloved blue bomber franchise. Some others have also strayed from the old 2D action-platformer formula like Megaman Soccer or Rockman Racing, which I adore, but these lead nowhere. Capcom has never come back to revisit them. The only outliers are spin-offs are Megaman Legends and MegaMan Battle Network. However, there is no contest that Battle Network is the far more popular of the two. It has spawned 10+ titles including mainline games, spiritual sequels, remakes, etc… There even is anime adaptation that ran for 5 seasons! So what makes this spin-off franchise so popular? As someone who has played all the main games of Battle Network, I can say that while the reimagined classic cast and setting of the original Megaman do help, it is the solid core battle mechanic that keeps the fans coming back for more. One Step From Eden is a game that puts the spotlight on the premise of MegaMan Battle Network’s grid-based battles all-the-while ramping its intensity and complexity many folds over.
One Step From Eden is a grid-based action game with deck building and rogue-like elements. Unlike its influencer, this title has almost next to no RPG flair and story. The focal point is entirely on combat. You are thrown straight into a battle and can only progress to the next node on the branching flowchart once all the enemies are eliminated. Alternate paths may be taken with different arrangements of nodes of many varieties. A boss will be waiting at the end of the chart. Beyond them lie the pathways to new areas. The general gameplay loop is quite simple.
What is not quite so simple is the deckbuilding aspect. In One Step From Eden, the player has to pick a character before starting a run. Each character comes with a premade deck with cards that will be used during combat. Two cards will be on standby at all times in which either one can be activated. Once used, the next card will automatically load on standby unless there are no cards left meaning a manual shuffle is required.
The complexity comes from having to pick a card from a randomized set of three after each victory. Unlike perks in other rogue-likes that have permanent passive effects that may also be conditionally activated, cards vary in effect, damage, and mana cost. Not to mention that all cards have to be manually used on top of being constantly and randomly distributed. Note that perks in the normal sense do exist under many names here with the most common one being called artifacts. The range of what the cards can do is quite broad. They can range from projectiles with various trajectories to beneficial structure summons and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Certain cards also feature unique sub-mechanics that reward moving a certain way or playing a specific subset of cards for better results. What kind of deck will you be able to build on the fly? Do you go for a chance at a synergy based deck? Your very own custom combo deck? Something more straight forward building around basic cards? And most importantly, do you keep the number of total cards low for consistent draws or cramming a bunch of powerful cards in?
Enemy designs are diverse. There are many types of enemies each with their attack patterns that appears based on the environment. An armor-clad knight, an obelisk that shoots out beams, and a machine that builds other machines are just touching on the surface of One Step From Eden.
Although the lesser enemies are colorful and ample in number they are still nowhere as entertaining as the bosses. Not only do they have several crazy attacks that are sure to catch you off-guard, their personalities and mannerisms are also well represented. Be it a violinist that makes me feel like syncing with the beat as if I were playing a rhythm game or a by-the-book loner gunman that specializes in manipulating your position, I enjoy my encounters with them. Fights are faster and harder than MegaMan Battle Network but it is also extremely satisfying once they have been overcome.
Being a Rogue-like style of games, it is a given that much of its replayability comes from unlocking more perks and cards with each passing run. There are also multiple unlockable characters. On top of this, the developer team, Thomas Moon Kang, has also put in the extra efforts to put in different variations and costumes. Character variations come with a different set of pre-selected cards that encourage specific gameplay plans while costumes are cosmetic skins. The latter does not sound like much but I very much appreciate this kind of extra love for the characters. Have I already mentioned that there are also a local PVP and co-op mode? Quite a package! Yes, it would have been nice to have online built-in to these but Steam Remote Play Together does offer a way to get around this limitation.
One Step From Eden is a great successor to MegaMan Battle Network in terms of gameplay. The developers have distilled the game into its very core, the combat. Adding rogue-like to the formula is also a good call. Increasing the grid area to 4×4 for a bigger movement zone adds to the complexity. This differentiates itself just enough from its source for a familiar but ultimately unique experience. At the same time, this also allows new types of attack cards that can only be implemented here which is bolstered by introducing sub-mechanics. Along with extra modes, having different variations and costumes that affect playstyles for each character also adds to the already high replayability. One Step From Eden is both a great rogue-like and a worthy spiritual sequel to the legacy of Battle Network.